"It's been a long, hard road, but we made it. There were times when we wanted to give up, but I told my sister...I said, we going to make it, we're coming up out of here, we're not going die," Gladys Scott said at a press conference in Mississippi.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the women's sentences Dec. 29 on the condition that Gladys Scott, 36, donate a kidney to Jamie, 38, within one year of their release. It is not clear what will happen to the deal if they are not compatible.
Jamie Scott has kidney disease and requires daily dialysis. She's not been feeling well today.
"I'm real weak, but like I say, it's like I dream, I can't wake up right now," Jamie Scott said. "I never thought this day would come that I would be on the outside of the walls when I've been bound on the inside of the walls. Now, I'm out where I can get more decent medical treatment."
The sisters left the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility for the first time in 16 years, yelling, "We're free" and, "God bless y'all." They were serving double life sentences for a 1994 armed robbery, which they claim they didn't commit.
The release from prison is also a reunion for the women. They'd recently been held in different parts of the prison, which is located in Pearl, Miss.
Now, the women will head to Pensacola, Fla., where they will be reunited with their mother, Evelyn Rasco, their five grown children and young grandchildren.
The conditions of the parole stipulate that the women must reach Pensacola within 24 hours. Jamie Scott has a 7:15 a.m. dialysis appointment there.
Rasco told the Pensacola News Journal, "I just want to make sure everything's together for when my children get home."
The women said that their mother is already looking for a doctor so that the women can be tested as soon as possible to see if Gladys Scott can really donate a kidney to her sister. Gladys Scott said that she always wanted to donate a kidney to her sister regardless of whether it meant that she would be released from prison.
"I'm praying to God that I'm a match because I don't want her to have nobody else's kidney," Gladys Scott said. "I wanted to give my sister a chance to walk out that prison door and I want to give her a chance now because ... I want her health. And I want her to raise my grandkids with me."
The sisters said seeing their children will make their prison release even more real.
"When I left my children, they were seven, three and 11 months old. They're 23, 20 and 18 now. So when I see them as living their lives as adults, I think that's when...reality is going to sink in for me," Gladys Scott said.
"Our grandchildren really don't know us...it's going to be weird to hear kids running through the house," Jamie Scott said.
For the advocates who rallied around the women and fought for their release, today's victory is bittersweet. The women were not exonerated of the crime for which they were convicted, but were resentenced to life on parole.
"I'm very disappointed that they've been resentenced to life on a parole," said Nancy Lockhart, an advocate and legal analyst for the Scott sisters. "Parole is a very dangerous way to live."